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Sunday, December 21, 2008

Snow, Songs, and Stuff 

Wow, it's been a long time since I blogged for real. I was just going back through some of the archives (to find the post I wrote about the revolution on the way to the revolution), and I'm impressed by the way I used to post more regularly. Alas, I seem to be getting more worn out by school these days. I ain't no spry youngster no more. NGYAH! (Note for people who didn't live in Sarasota, Florida in the mid-90s: That's the old-person noise Garrett came up with.)

I've enjoyed a nice relaxing 3-day weekend, owing to the big snowstorm. Shoveling my car out is never fun, but I did it before everything got frozen together, so it wasn't too bad. Also, I forgot to bring home papers to grade. Sorry, Creative Writing students! Looks like I'll have some work to do over break. (They're waiting to get back the Big Story they turned in recently.) I must say that snow days are one of the very nice fringe benefits of being a teacher. (The pic there is of the world's biggest snowflake ever. Except it's just a random image of a snowflake used to illustrate the tiny story.)

Making Other People Feel Worse

Another nice benefit of teaching is being able to close out the Open Mic Poetry Slam we have twice a year at the high school. This year's event happened last week, and it was outstanding. Kudos to all of my students who got up on stage; you rocked the house! I finally remembered to bring a camera, and I'm working on putting all the clips together with titles and music and stuff, so hopefully I'll have something to give them before long. (I doubt they — or the administration — would be okay with me posting it on YouTube, but I'll see.)

Speaking of rocking the house, I found a used copy of Rock Band 2 recently. Although I'm irritated by the fact that we have to buy a whole new game despite the fact that there's not much change in how it's played, I must say there are some nice things about the new version:
  • Solo Tour and Bass Possibilities: In RB1, the solo tour was a very stripped-down, limited experience. You couldn't play the bass guitar as a unique persistent character, for example. But in the new game, the solo tour is done exactly the same as the group dealie. You can even put your unique characters into the other slots of NPC musicians. So Diane's freaky-haired drummer is always on the sticks, even when she's not playing. And I got Al Jourgenson on bass. Woo!

  • The No-Fail Option. We haven't used this, but I expect it will be very handy when new folks come over to play. I also like how the loading-screen infobox says: "Hey, kids! Are you tired of having your parents ruin the song by failing out? Turn on the No Fail" option."

  • Freestyle Drumming. Harmonix (the company which makes RB) finally let us play around on the drums, making them effectively a virtual kit. Now you can play an mp3 through the system and drum along with it. No fancy colored boxes, obviously, since that would require a technical sophistication that we're just not ready for yet. But maybe soon..? Meantime, it's great to be able to smash the skins to your favorite albums. (Including Meantime.)

  • Bikini7Tiger. New tracks! Dude, my students are being exposed to Bikini Kill and L7. How cool is that? (Though there are better songs on Bricks are Heavy.) And I know it's silly, but there's simply no way to describe how cool it is to play the guitar parts on "Eye of the Tiger".

    My buddy Dug pointed out, while I was whining about having to buy a whole new game disc, that it's about the same price of a big song package. This is true (especially when a lower-priced used copy can be found), but I realized that I was irked by having to pay for songs that I don't really want (like Shooting Star, gack). But then I realized that there's a really nice upside: In addition to getting songs that I really love, I'm finding new songs that I'd never heard before, which are good musically and fun to play. "Float On" by Modest Mouse, for example, and Jimmy Eat World's "The Middle".
Well, I've got a walk to shovel and a dog to walk. Happy holidays, everyone!


"Eye of the Tiger" from Perspolis. Pure magic.

Today I'm listening to: Scorn!